At the Zionist Organization of America’s gala Sunday night, Republican megadonors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson bestowed an award on Christians United for Israel founder John Hagee. In his remarks, Hagee called President Barack Obama “the most anti-Semitic president ever.”
Chemi Shalev reports more details:
The other stars of the night were the ubiquitous Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, whose generous contributions to ZOA have helped lift the organization out of the doldrums and into the spotlight and the fast lane. [ZOA president Mort] Klein gave Adelson a gift mezuzah for his new Las Vegas home (in which “God himself would be happy to live if he could afford it”] then Miriam Adelson told the audience “how I fell in love” with Hagee “the most effective Christian Zionist in the world” and then Hagee described the Adelsons as “the greatest citizens of America.” And the crowd kvelled.
The extravagant accolades did not end there. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who also received an award, compared Klein, who has a speech impediment, to Moses. (But who’s most like Moses, really? The next day, Cruz suggested a replacement for outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel: former Senator Joe Lieberman, “a member of the President’s own party with deep experience and unshakable commitment to the security of the United States.” Like the Adelsons, Lieberman has had a strong affection for Hagee, having once likened him to Moses, calling him a “man of God” and a “leader of a mighty multitude.”)
But the world’s most visible arbiter of anti-Semitism had another view of Hagee’s comment about Obama at the ZOA gala. Yesterday, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said Hagee’s accusation that Obama is “the most anti-Semitic president ever” was “offensive and misplaced.” In a statement, Foxman said, “Anti-Semitic is a term that should never be used lightly, or applied to exact a political score or make a political point.” President Obama, Foxman added, “continues to be a staunch ally and friend of Israel and friend of the Jewish community. And while we and members of the Jewish community have not always seen eye-to-eye with this administration on certain issues involving the Jewish State, the fact remains that this administration has continued the strong and unwavering alliance with Israel.”
I reached out to CUFI’s spokesman for comment on Foxman’s statement late yesterday and will update this post with any response.
Although Hagee has long been controversial to many Jews, despite the embrace by right-wing groups like the ZOA, a search of the ADL archives reveals it has been more than six years since Foxman has remarked on the CUFI leader’s statements. The last time was in 2008, after a 1999 sermon surfaced in which Hagee characterized the Holocaust as part of God’s plan for the Jews. At the time, Foxman corresponded with Hagee, and later issued a statement welcoming Hagee’s letter “clarifying his views” and “his acknowledgement that the Holocaust was a tragedy unique in its evil and horror and the limits of our understanding in seeking to comprehend the mind of God.” Hagee, Foxman wrote at the time, “has devoted his life to combating anti-Semitism and supporting the State of Israel. We are grateful for his efforts to eradicate anti-Semitism and to rally so many in the Christian community to stand with Israel.”
A couple of weeks ago, I noted that establishment Jewish criticism of Hagee had largely faded away since the 2008 controversy. Is the Foxman statement a signal of a new trend, or is Foxman’s impending retirement making him more comfortable expressing such criticism?